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Zee can participate in IPL e-auction on its own, says MD Punit Goenka

Statement comes as company re-enters sports broadcasting after six years; unlikely to bid along with Sony

Topics
zee | Punit Goenka | IPL auction

Viveat Susan Pinto  |  Mumbai 


Puneet Goenka
While Zee had not specified the deal size or tenure of the contract, industry sources had estimated the deal size to be around Rs 800-900 crore for 10 years, given that the league is new.

Entertainment Enterprises (Zee) may bid for the upcoming media rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on its own, the company's MD and CEO told analysts in a call, putting to rest speculation that it would do so along with Pictures Networks India with whom it is merging.

Addressing investor queries, Goenka said the company had a strong balance sheet and could therefore go solo during the e-auction, which is slated for June 12. "We can participate in the IPL tender process on our own. We have a very healthy balance sheet. Certainly, we have the qualification to participate in the tender (process) on our own,” he said.

Goenka's statement acquires significance as has re-entered sports broadcasting after six years, announcing last week that it had picked up the global media rights for the UAE T20 League. The tournament, likely to happen this month, will air exclusively on Zee's television channels and its over-the-top (OTT) platform ZEE5, in India and across the world.

While had not specified the deal size or tenure of the contract, industry sources had estimated the deal size to be around Rs 800-900 crore for 10 years, given that the league is new.

As far as the IPL media rights auction is concerned, Zee had picked up the bid documents for the 2023-27 media rights cycle along with a host of other including Disney-Star, Sony, Viacom18-Bodhi Tree, Amazon, Apple, Google, Dream11, Sky Sports UK, SuperSport SA and Times Internet.

Goenka told analysts that Zee could either put in a bid for a single category (such as digital or television rights) or could put in bids in all four categories as laid out by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the tender document.

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"The ITT (Invitation to Tender) does not preclude us from bidding for either part or all of the media rights. We are evaluating our options as to what is the best strategy for the company going forward, " he said.

Goenka also said that the company was looking at various options on funding its bid for the IPL media rights. "We don't have to pay any money upfront. It is only when the rights start you have to pay for them. Till that time, there are instruments such as bank guarantees that are available. We are evaluating all options," Goenka told investors.

While bids are likely to be around 20-25 per cent higher than the current base price of Rs 33,000 crore, some media experts said it could touch Rs 50,000-60,000 crore on the auction day, depending on the appetite of bidders.

Amazon, Apple and Google, according to informed sources, may focus on the digital rights. Attention, however, is shifting to the broadcasters Disney-Star, and Viacom18-Bodhi Tree with regard to their strategies for the upcoming auction.

Disney-Star and Pictures Network India declined comment when contacted. Mails and text messages sent to Viacom18 elicited no response till the time of going to press. But experts say that Viacom18-Bodhi Tree may be the most aggressive of the three networks, given the expertise that Uday Shankar, the former chairman of Star India and president of Walt Disney Asia Pacific, who is now the joint venture partner in Lupa Systems, an investment entity promoted by James Murdoch, brings to the table.

Bodhi Tree, which recently announced it was investing Rs 13,500 crore in Viacom18, along with Reliance Industries, is a platform promoted by Lupa Systems and Shankar.

First Published: Wed, June 01 2022. 19:01 IST

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